Mikael Carlsson. of Movie Score Media.
Firstly. why film music? And when did first become aware of music in movies?
I became addicted to film scores in the late 80s when a good friend introduced me to the many brilliant scores of that era, primarily works by Williams and Goldsmith. Together, we started to collect. I remember going to the good old soundtrack store on 58 Dean Street in London, bringing home a dozen Horner LPs, while my friend bought an equally impressive amount of Silvestri’s… In fact, though, my father had already played his Close Encounters soundtrack for me many times before this, but it was only at the age of 15-16 I got really hooked. Before that, I had been interested mostly in classical music, exploring a lot of different composers. When I began to take serious notice of the music of John Williams, I realized his music had all the elements I was usually looking for in classical music: emotions, drama, melody, interesting harmony, colourful orchestrations.
What was your first record purchase if it was not a soundtrack what was the first film music you went out and paid for?
The first soundtrack I bought myself was the Cocoon LP, and shortly thereafter came Willow. The first film music CD I bought was John Williams compilation ’Pops in Space’.
Before the arrival of cds how many soundtracks did you have in your collection on vinyl?
Oh. I really don’t know, maybe a couple of hundreds? Is that even important? [laughs]
What was your most expensive soundtrack purchase ?
I have to say that this is a question I can’t answer because I don’t keep track of stuff like that. I do have a lot of rare soundtracks, but this is mostly because of gifts and promos sent to me in my role as a film music journalist (1993-2008) and soundtrack record producer (2006- ). Although I have thousands and thousands of soundtrack CDs, I would not consider myself an active collector anymore.
Do you still buy lp records and which do you prefer.lp.cd or download?
I never buy vinyl and only on rare occasions do I buy CDs. I have transitioned into the digital era and is still digitizing and coordinating a huge digital library of film scores for both my own professional use and for my enjoyment.
Is there anything that you are looking for that maybe you have not been able to find.
Well, this question can be answered both from a label owners’ and a film music fan’s perspective. I know that I belong to a minority, but personally I am not a huge fan of the dozens of different limited, expanded, complete, definitive, etcetera, versions that exist of many of the big film scores we all love. I tend to go back to the original album cuts that Williams and Goldsmith created, and still find them to be the most rewarding musically. Some scores – in fact most of those written by the two composers I just mentioned – are so rich that they deserve a more generous presentation than the original LPs could offer, but in general I do think that the fourth album version of the same score is craziness. I love to spend my time discovering new works and new composers instead.
What composer would you say dominates your collection?
I do have a huge lot of Williams, Goldsmith, Horner, Silvestri, Broughton, Chris Young… and many others.
What is your opinion of song scores ?
That’s a strange expression. Do you mean musicals? Or soundtrack albums that are song compilations? Well… I am not interested.
What is your opinion of the state of film music in recent years. compared to the 40.s 50.s 60.s and 70s?
The quality of film music in general is very high, but I think that there is a conformity and lack of inventiveness in a lot of mainstream scores – but there are so many exceptions from that rule too. We tend to be very negative and bemoan the current state of film music – but in fact, this is nothing new. Like any art form, or genre, there is only a small fraction of what is put out that is really noteworthy, that is original and unique. Then there is a pretty large pile of stuff that is functional and can be a great experience – but it won’t last in your memory for long. Then there is an even bigger amount of content that simply is completely uninteresting. There is also a lot of talk about the lack of melody in today’s film scores in general – and while I agree to a certain extent, in my book the lack of interesting harmony is an even bigger consideration. The predictable harmonic formula for a lot of mainstream film scores is tiresome. That’s why composers like Thomas Newman – a genius when it comes to nearly bi-tonal ideas and a sense of harmonic ambivalence – are always refreshing. And look at John Williams: still, at the age of 86, he writes harmonies that are complex and interesting, even though the melodies themselves are easy to hum. I love that!
How do you store your cds ?
If you were asked by a soundtrack label to choose ten soundtracks to be released for first time or re-released in a complete version what would be on your list?
Ha ha. I don’t think this question is for me running a soundtrack label myself. But one of those scores that were on my list was Back to Gaya by Michael Kamen…